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      Setting up contextual advertising in Google Ads for a recovery-oriented drug addiction services clinic. Case of Vasilenko Medical Center.

      Author: Oleksandr Shylin
      Context specialist
      Head of PPC specialists

      Almost all contextual advertising specialists who have dealt with the promotion of medical services in the Google Ads service can face moderators’ and checking bots’ “unhealthy” interest even then the directions for promotion are allowed. It leads to constant ad rejection or restriction of ad impressions.

      Since May 2018, ads for addiction services have been officially banned on Google Ads for all countries except the United States. US advertisers must be LegitScript certified and additionally certified by Google.

      Theoretically, since 2018, there should be no advertising results for queries like “drug addiction treatment center”, but even in 2022, when we drive this query into the search line, we see advertisements.

      Setting up contextual advertising in Google Ads

      We will take the ethical side of the issue in terms of violation of the rules of the advertising service into brackets; since 2017, after the ban on the Yandex search engine in Ukraine, Google has been de facto a monopolist. And if users do not have an alternative, they adapt the available tools to suit their needs.


      Vasilenko Medical Center is a licensed open-type clinic working for more than 25 years to rid patients of drug and alcohol addictions.

      The topic is delicate, and therefore, having received an initial request from a client, we carefully checked licenses, reviews, and information about doctors. We started cooperation only after ensuring that the clinic had all the necessary permits and licenses.


      The project is being carried out from August 2021 to February 2022 (the project is temporarily suspended due to the war in Ukraine).

      The goal of the project

      Since the project is in the topic “on the verge of a foul”, the goal was set as a cascading one:

      1. Launch the project and not get an account ban.
      2. Increase the number of visits to the clinic in the areas of “Treatment of alcoholism” and “Treatment of drug addiction”.
      3. *Ensure a sufficient level of quality in the texts and wording of the ads.
      4. *since the topic is forbidden, the wording of the texts should be neutral and not include trigger phrases that are just relevant to user requests.

      Description of work on setting up contextual advertising for a recovery-oriented drug addiction services clinic.

      The main question is how to launch an advertisement for a service that Google prohibits from advertising? Unfortunately, there is no universal answer. But we can share with you approaches that have already been tested.

      Project launch algorithm:

      1. Carefully study the Healthcare and Pharmaceuticals - we explore the English version since the wording, and little things that are lost during translation can help you determine the correct interpretation of the rule and find a loophole in it.
      2. Get upset because the Advertising Policies Help, without embellishment, clearly states:

        “Google only allows ads for addiction services in Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, and the United States. Google does not allow ads for addiction services in other countries.”, but do not despair and move on.

      3. In order for the system to reject ads or ban an account for violating the rules, it must understand that the rules have been violated. There are 3 elements that the moderation bot checks (even if advertising campaigns are suspended):
        • keyword
        • ad text
        • content on the landing page

        The moderator bot scans not only the landing page but the entire site, so it would be necessary to remove mentions of “forbidden” words from the entire site. This option was immediately abandoned since the site was promoted by SEO and had good volumes of organic traffic.

        Instead, the decision was made to use a pre-lander - a transit page that can be used as a target URL in a Google Ads account.

      4. Basic requirements for the pre-lander:
        • the ability to edit content without the involvement of developers, designers, layout designers, etc.
        • minimum cost
        • subdomain with a large amount of traffic

        The best option was the Taplink service, which is usually used to create multilinks in social networks.

        Setting up contextual advertising in Google Ads

      5. Creating a transit page to launch advertising is the main rule to keep a balance. If you add a lot of relevant content, moderation will reject it due to advertising a prohibited service. If you add a little content, it will finish with the same story but with the wording “not enough original content”. Since the 5th time, we have struck a balance and placed on the pre-lander:
        • messenger widgets - for those who are ready to go to the contact from the first touch
        • call button with a 24-hour call processing line
        • link to the main site - for those who need additional information before how to decide the
        • button to go to the main site, but the page with the form Calculate the cost of treatment
        • Google Analytics tracking code
      6. The collection of semantics for the launch was different from the standard one. For ordinary projects, task No. 1 was to select the most relevant keywords, and even at the stage of creating a prototype of an advertising campaign, to reject all the “garbage”. Then in the case of a drug addiction treatment clinic, the approach had to be significantly adjusted.

        We used broadly matched neutral keywords and quickly downvoted irrelevant queries in already running campaigns. The main reason is that if you add keywords related to forbidden topics, in exact accordance, then with a probability of 99%, the account will be blocked.

      7. Preparing ad texts has become the most voluminous task when setting up and optimizing campaigns. Since it was also necessary to find a balance here, the target audience has joined the Rules and the client's vision of advertisements.

        To understand the scope of work for one advertising campaign, which consists of 3 ad groups, 180+ heading options and 60+ description options were prepared.

        Setting up contextual advertising in Google Ads

      Limitations and difficulties that you need to prepare for when launching contextual advertising for services of prohibited topics:

      Results of the work:

      A comparison of base indicators is built according to the following principle:

      September (the first full-fledged period of the project)

      December (the last full-fledged period of conducting before the pause for the New Year holidays).

      In 4 months we have achieved:

      Increase the number of clicks by 6 times.

      Setting up contextual advertising in Google Ads

      The number of submitted applications on the site increased by 168%.

      Setting up contextual advertising in Google Ads

      The average cost per click decreased by 61.48%

      Setting up contextual advertising in Google Ads

      Customer Feedback:

      We are delighted with our cooperation with Aweb. At the beginning of the work, we had some concerns about whether the contractor could be effective, given the peculiarity of the niche. After a while, we realised that we had nothing to worry about and turned to professionals. We liked the approach as a whole, namely, the format of interaction with the team. We shared niche insights, our goals and our wishes, and Aweb offered ideas for implementation using his experience.

      As a result, such interaction and expertise of specialists have borne fruit, which was reflected in a significant increase in the number of targeted visits to the clinic.

      Now our work has been temporarily suspended due to the martial law in Ukraine, but we hope we will continue cooperation after stabilising the situation.

      Project participants:

      Project manager: Oleksandra Nesina

      PPC specialist: Oleksandr Shylin

      Head of contextual advertising department: Halyna Lyman